Thanksgiving Books and Books about Gratitude
As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a great time to think about the meaning of the holiday, its history, and how we can practice gratitude all year long. Below are new Thanksgiving books and books about gratitude for young readers. How do you practice gratitude with your children?
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Thanksgiving Books and Books about Gratitude
Enjoy these Thanksgiving books, plus books about gratitude!
You’ve grown up with the Thanksgiving story, but do you know what really happened all those years ago? Keepunumuk is the story you don’t know, a Native retelling that focuses on the Wampanoag perspective. Read my full review and be sure to watch my interview with the authors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
Did you know that Thanksgiving didn’t become an official holiday in the US until the 1800s? The new book Giving Thanks tells the story of Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer in the 1800s who led a campaign to create Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Until that time, many places across the US celebrated thanksgiving, but on different days. Hale thought celebrating gratitude on the same day would help unify the country. President Lincoln agreed, and in the midst of the Civil War, he made it a national holiday. I love the book’s emphasis on gratitude and its beautiful diverse illustrations. Kids will even learn that the Presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey each year started thanks to Lincoln’s son Tad, who wanted to keep one as a pet!
Twelve Dinging Doorbells is a fresh look at the famous carol. As a family gathers for a holiday meal, we see the events through the eyes of a young girl. There is lots of great food (“baked macaroni and cheese!”) and guests (“two selfie queens”). But as more and more guests arrive with each ding of the doorbell, it gets noisier and more chaotic for our young narrator. Players are yelling and toddlers are squealing, and someone has eaten her piece of sweet potato pie! The lyrics turn sour, until Granny comes to the rescue with another pie, just for the two of them to share. A sweet, relatable story to celebrate family gatherings and finding your own space within the loving chaos. (Note: This book is not about a specific holiday, so it would work perfectly for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other special family gathering!)
For so many kids, Thanksgiving doesn’t look exactly like it in books or movies. In Matzo Ball-Wonton Thanksgiving, Amelie loves having her Jewish and Taiwanese grandmothers both visiting for Thanksgiving, but she is not happy that they are both planning to make soup! Amelie knows from her friends what a “real” Thanksgiving looks like – and soup is definitely on the menu! Her opposition almost leads to a Thanksgiving disaster, but she comes to realize the true meaning of the holiday, and that blending cultures makes for the best kind of American tradition. Told by a Chinese-Jewish girl, based on her own experiences as a child, as she struggled with her identity, eventually realizing that celebrating own unique heritage was part of the beauty of being American.
Books About Gratitude
The Thank You Book is a board book that helps very young readers appreciate the simple ways we can say thank you – through words, hugs, kisses, and small gifts. The diverse characters and cheerful scenes help children think about all we have to be grateful for and to appreciate how a small act of gratitude can have a ripple effect on those around us.
The Little Book of Joy is a fabulous way for families to practice gratitude all year long. It has an activity for every day of the year to help kids celebrate the small joys of life. Each day has a new activity to try (like tap dancing! or soaking up the sun!) All of the activities encourage mindfulness and appreciating the world around you. Each is easy to do, suits a range of ages, and typically is accompanied by questions for reflection.
Another great book to help families reflect on gratitude and joy is For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day. (Be sure to watch my interview with Nancy Tupper Ling, one of the editors. This inspirational anthology gathers prayers and poems from a variety of religions and traditions, all teaching children mindfulness and gratitude for each day. Arranged to from morning to night, the book is full of short, easy to read passages that families can read together and help families focus on the small joys of the world around them.
Thank you, Mama grew out of the experiences of influencer Linda Meeker, who gained fame when posting videos of her son Grey learning to say “thank you.” This sweet book follows Grey as he goes about his day, playing firefighter and pirate. With each meal and snack, as he explores many different flavors and textures, he wonders what his favorite food is. In the end, he realizes that his favorite food is anything shared with those he loves! A relatable story that young readers will enjoy, and I love that it weaves in elements of Vietnamese culture, from food to family names, as well as the emphasis on gratitude and courtesy.
This Joy! is a exhilarating read for little ones about a young girl’s enthusiastic embrace of the small joys of daily life. Its exuberant illustrations fairly jump off the page, and the simple text makes it easy to get caught up in her happiness and appreciate the gift of each day.
My Dad is Always Working is a book so many families can relate to! When a parent works long hours, it can be hard for young children to understand just how much they contribute to the household. In My Dad is Always Working, a young boy is frustrated that his father is so rarely at home to play with him or pick him up from school, but his mother gently helps him understand just how much his father does for him – and helps his father understand just how much those small moments together mean to his son!
Our Table comes from beloved creator Peter H. Reynolds and serves as a reminder to families about the importance of togetherness. Violet longs for family dinners together, but, now that everyone is pulled in different directions by technology, the dinner table itself grows smaller and smaller until it disappears. Violet then goes on a mission to build a new table and, in the process, helps her family rediscover the value of spending time together creating and enjoying meals. Perfect as a reminder to be grateful for our time together.
The Grumbles is a fun story that carries an important message: how much troubles affect us is a result of our own attitude. The Grumbles try not to get weighed down by problems and hassles, but sometimes things just get to them! So they grumble and complain and spiral into a day that only grows worse. Then Grandma Grateful arrives to remind them that attitude is everything! She teaches them to look for the good and always count your blessings, so that the little things don’t bring you down.
The Candy Dish comes from the New York Times best-selling author of What Do You Do With an Idea? It is a fable about a little girl who discovers a candy dish that gives her the most delicious candy – but only one piece at a time. She must learn the difficult lessons of patience and gratitude in order to appreciate each piece as it appears, rather than only feeling disappointment at not having more. A reminder that each day is a gift, unique and new, if we would only appreciate it.